Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Tuesday met with potential investors from over 40 countries at the just concluded Trade and Investment Forum, put together by PricewaterhouseCoopers, held at the Dorchester Hotel, Mayfair, London, where he posited that the State has the capacity to drive trade and investment in the African continent.
Governor Ambode who spoke at a special session tagged ‘An Audience with the Governor of Lagos State’, said his administration is working hard to make the State the bridge into Africa and become the staging post for trade and investment in the continent.
He said that since assuming office as the 14th Governor of the State, he set out to reposition Lagos as the ‘global gateway’ for Africa and an easy place to do business.
“Our strategic imperative is to see Lagos emerge as an International Financial Centre of repute in Africa and beyond. Indeed, I am confident that Lagos stands poised to sustain and further develop a buoyant financial and consumer services’ industry. We have the population and the rise of an emerging middle class to back this up. Lagos is a new market, a new frontier for you to consider”, the Governor said.
He said the need for diversification of the economy in the wake of the ongoing decline in oil prices with its inevitable consequences on the nation’s economy was not negotiable as Nigeria can no longer rely on a mono economy.
“We require huge investments in public infrastructure, production of energy, health and education to enable us take full advantage of the evolving economic conditions. The World Bank estimates that nearly $93 billion is required annually as investment in Africa and it is estimated that the city of Lagos will require at least a quarter of this figure”, he said.
The Governor, who spoke on the topic, ‘Lagos: A City of Opportunity’, said that despite being the smallest state in Nigeria in terms of space, Lagos remains the commercial hub of the country as its GDP currently stands at $136.6 billion, while it contributes 25% to the GDP of Nigeria, making it arguably Africa’s fourth largest economy.
“The GDP of Lagos has an estimated growth rate of 10% and it is expected that by 2025 the GDP will be $355billion. At present, 18 of Fortune 500 global companies have a presence in Lagos State. As at January 2015 the population of Lagos was 21 million making it Africa’s largest city and the 3rd largest city in the world. The population has an average annual growth rate of 3.2% and is estimated to be over 30 million by 2025.These are indeed impressive figures”, he said.
Governor Ambode, however, said that like many other mega cities of the world, Lagos has its own challenges, but his administration is engaging key leaders within the private sector to tackle the challenges head on.
He said the strategic imperatives of his administration is built on four pillars, namely infrastructural development, Economic Development, Social Development and Sustainable Development.
“I would like to emphasize my Government’s commitment to the development of Lagos. These are exciting times for our city and I urge you to reflect on the new market and frontiers which Lagos presents”.
“As I conclude today, I will take this opportunity to invite Nigerians in the diaspora to come home. We need your skills and experience to contribute your quota into building our nation. We all have a “social obligation” to transform our country into the dream status we aspire, but it will require aggressive innovations and creativity from us all”, he said.
Governor Ambode and his team, which include some Commissioners and Special Advisers also participated in the Africa Global Summit (TGAIS) which started on December 1, at the Central Hall, Westminster, London, where they held several one-on-one meetings with key investors who have shown strong interest in investing in transportation, energy, infrastructure and agriculture sectors in Lagos
Some key Nigerian and foreign investors who attended the forum include President of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote; Chairman of the Zenon Group, Femi Otedola; Churchgate Group, Japanese Group – Matuerbeni, AmatheurAgric, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse.
The UK Minister for Africa, James Duddridge and Deputy British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ray Kyles were also in attendance.